Music is influenced by society and music also influences society. In as early as the 1880’s melting pot of cultures, New Orleans was awash with a mixture of music in the form of rag time music, brass bands and more. Played in the saloons and dancehalls, a mixed music began to develop in the perennial party atmosphere of New Orleans. Charles Buddy Bolden’s trumpet was acclaimed as the first hot jazz, and later Bill Johnson’s Bass mixed with the dance craze of the 1910s led to the development of new version bands. The Original Dixieland Jass Band was one of the first to record what is now acclaimed as Jazz music. The band also served to introduce music to Chicago. “Dixieland Jazz” introduced the music to all other states in the country. As with developing music genre, Jazz underwent many trends in development and has been influenced by many artists over the years. One such acclaimed artist whose name is forever associated with Jazz is “the Bird” Charlie Parker.
Charlie Parker was an alto saxophone player and an improviser. Improvisations are the backbone of Jazz and improvisation is one of the reasons that the music was able to spread all over the nation in a faster manner. Improvisations are something that Jazz came to recognize more than compositions. Parker’s early master pieces such as “Ko Ko” are acclaimed for its simple structure, and improvised combinations of the alto saxophone and the trumpet, played in eight bar melodic phrases.
Given this background context, the purpose of this work is to critically discuss African American work songs history by specifically selecting the example of Jazz, and more specifically focusing on the works and influence of “the Bird”. In this analysis, there will be discussion of the Ornithology and the role of Charles Parker for this structure. This Ornithology concept is about the contrafact tune. This stems from the compositional device which originates from the blues times and was important during the development of the bop from 1940s. Melodies have underlying harmonic structures which can not be copyrighted. The Jazz musicians fundamentally improvised newer pieces of composition and performed.
The essay makes the argument that ornithology was a significant contribution of Parker to Jazz and its influence can be felt on other musicians in the way it led them to improvise over the years. Although many would hail the contribution of Parker to Jazz music from a pure artistic angle, his contribution did more than to just improve the music. It served as a way for racial upliftment, liberation and assimilation of Black people and their ideologies.